Well, confirm a translation:
I was inside a church this week, and one of the stained glass windows had a biblical scene (I think King David was a part of it), and some Hebrew characters.
They appeared to be three words, and the [sup]1[/sup]characters were: [sup]2[/sup]he (gap) lamed (gap) shin, [sup]3[/sup]resh or khaf, qof.
The translation was rendered as “Holiness unto the Lord.”
[sup]1[/sup]*My source for the character names
[sup]2[/sup]Possibly could have been chet, but I think it was he
[sup]3[/sup]Not sure which. I wrote the characters down, so it could have been either, as I don’t write Hebrew every day–but I do know that Hebrew is consonant based and vowel sounds are often not indicated. They don’t like photographs taken inside the church (flash or no flash), hence, my transliteration.
You’re forgetting that Hebrew is read from right to left. Your translation helped me understand that what you really saw was (in proper reading order):
qoph - dalet - shin
lamed - heh.
The first word is “Kadosh”, which means holy. The second “word” is La-(G-d’s name), the lamed is a prefix that means “to” and the Heh is frequently used as an abbreviation in place of G-d’s name where it is being written for non-holy reasons (such as an artistic depiction). The gap between the lamed and the heh was probably because the heh isn’t the real word that the lamed is meant to be attached to, but is a stand-in.
This phrase is the inscription on the golden forehead-plate worn by the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest of Jewish Temple Service (though in the real item, the four-letter name of G-d would be inscribed). See Exodus 28:36-38.
I think you’re reading it backwards, in the same direction that you’d read English. (Hebrew is read right-to-left, the opposite direction from English.) I’m also assuming that the second letter (the next-to-last in your original list) is a daled, which looks much like a resh, one of the options you offered for that letter. If both of these are true, it says ‘Kodesh L’H[ashem]’ . (A Hay (the H of the Hebrew alphabet), usually followed by an apostrophe, is often used as an abbreviation for Hashem. Hashem is it in itself a euphemism meaning ‘the Name,’ and is used in a context where one doesn’t want to use an actual Name of God. If I’m referring to God in day-to-day conversation with other observant Jews, I would generally use the word Hashem rather than God, and certainly wouldn’t use one of the names of God outside the context of prayer.) There are no vowels here - vowels are indicated by small marks above and below letters, not by letters themselves. For example, if this had been vowelized, there would be a small dot to the upper left of the initial Kuf, to indicate an ‘oh’ sound, and three dots arranged in a little triangle under the Daled to indicate a short e.
I would translate Kodesh L’Hashem as “sanctified to God.” “Holiness unto the Lord” is probably an archaic way of expressing this, but I don’t find it as clear.
Dang, you always beat me to these things, even past midnight! At least we agree
The letter heh is the prefix ha-, the specifier form of the English article “the.” When used as an abbreviation, the base word is shem, “name” – specifically the Divine name of four letters that since the days of the Second Temple (or maybe even the First Temple), is never pronounced as written, but as a form of the word adon, “master.”